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California Bill to Make Independent Instructors Follow Part 141 Rules

June 3, 2010 —Late last year the California Legislature passed Assembly Bill 48 (AB48) which reauthorizes a state bureau that monitors the quality of post-secondary institutions and protects students from losing pre-paid tuition to a school that closes. A hearing on Monday (June 7) will determine how those who provide flight instruction in California will be affected by the new law. In the past, flight training facilities were exempted from complying with the requirements of the bureau or quality monitoring. The new bill removed the exemption and as the law now reads; flight training facilities from full-fledged Part 141 flight schools to independent instructors may have to be certified and operate as though they are a post-secondary institution such as a college or technical school.

Observers say flight schools are likely to be directly impacted by the law; however, the impact on independent flight instructors is unclear. The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) contends that AB48 was designed to regulate private colleges and technical schools not the disparate world of flight instruction which varies widely and whose curriculum is already regulated by the FAA. 

The NATA says that the rules would affect independent and small flight schools as the cost and infrastructure requirements are quite involved. It would likely force instructors to either leave the profession or try to join a large flight school to avoid the start-up and maintenance costs, and administrative hassles. Small FBOs that offer instruction would also face a hard decision about whether to continue to offer instruction.

If an independent instructor were to want to continue instructing under the new rules they would be subject to additional qualifications for flight instructors before they can teach in California even though they are certified by the FAA. Plus all instructors would be subject to academic reviews that are designed for colleges and universities.

In addition to the academic reviews yearly and periodic fees would be assessed on each flight instructor including $2.50 per $1000 earned, which would go toward a state fund that would pay claims to students who’s CFI “disappears” with their money. Each instructor would be charged an initial application fee of $5000 and a $3500 renewal fee every three years. If the instructor has a second location an additional fee of $1000 would be assessed. Finally, they would be required to pay an operation fee of three-quarters of a percent of the CFI’s income (not to exceed $25000 annually).

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